Sports betting is popular all over Europe and many countries have an established culture for bookmaking. However, some states have only recently embraced the idea of free-market gambling. One of those is Portugal, which only legalized gambling in the last few years. While it took tremendous effort for the country to achieve this, it is not at all clear what the future of gambling in Portugal is.
Portuguese betting regulations only came into existence in the last 3 to 4 years and the private market is still new. That being said, perhaps not all punters are familiar with the legal situation in the country. For your convenience, we will take a look at the history of sports betting in Portugal and what the current laws are regarding our favorite pastime.
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Legalities of Online Sports Betting in Portugal
Historical Betting Overview
Portugal has had a contentious history with gambling and until recent years, the whole sports betting scene was closed off. It was only recently that the government gave up its monopoly on sports betting activities. Since 1961, bookmaking was a monopoly enterprise ran by the government. The profit from it was used to fund various social programs and the like. However, in the 2000s, as online sports betting was increasing in popularity, many international operators began to covet the Portuguese market. So much so that Bwin even contested the monopoly in the European Court of Justice back in 2009. Bwin lost, but it was clear that demand was rising and companies were looking to move in.
Only in 2013, in the wake of the global financial crisis, the Portuguese government made steps to open the sports betting scene and other forms of gambling to private companies. In 2015, the regulatory institution was established to oversee the sports betting scene of Portugal and to make legislation clear and concise.
Odds Format in Portugal
There are three major odds types used in the online bookmaker scene – American, Fractional and Decimal. Each gives you a different way to read the odds, though they all convey the same information. By default, most sportsbooks available to a Portuguese customer base will utilize the Decimal format. It is presented like this:
Bet Option: 1.75
What this means is that a $100 bet will return the base value of the wager and $75 in profit, for a net total of $175. The decimal odds are preferred by punters from all over the globe for their simplicity. Of course, if you prefer either the American or Fractional format, you will have the opportunity to change it. This does not affect the bets themselves, rather how they are presented. It all boils down to personal preference and the bookmakers are ready to accommodate for it.
Portugal Betting Laws and Legislation
The betting scene in Portugal is under the supervision of a government institution called Serviço de Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos of Turismo de Portugal. This government body oversees most forms of betting in the country, including casino gaming, sports betting, bingo, poker, etc. In order to provide any of these services to a Portuguese public, operators are required to acquire a license. All gambling licenses will last for 3 years, at which point they have to be renewed.
To get one in the first place, a company has to prove that it is fair and reliable when it comes to sports betting or other types of gambling. There is a process to verify this includes a slew of audits and tests, which have to be passed. Moreover, the SRIJ also imposes strict taxation on the operators, with bookmakers being asked to pay between 8% and 16%, depending on specific factors. This is quite high considering the policies of other regulatory institutions in Europe. Additionally, operators have to put a performance bond of €500,000, as well as, €100,000 extra which will guarantee the payment of taxes. All in all, some of these measures are considered draconian by betting companies and not many are pleased with them.
The laws regarding the minimum age required to gamble in Portugal are also somewhat interesting. Tourists are permitted to place bets at 18 years of age, however, citizens of the country have to 21 years old or older.
Portugal Betting Restrictions
Strictly speaking, there are restrictions on what online betting platforms are allowed to offer their services to the Portuguese public. In theory, only licensed and approved sportsbooks are permitted to operate. However, due to the high tax rate, many have chosen not to go that route. Instead, certain websites have continued to accept Portuguese customers, even without a valid license. The government has tried to crack down on these platforms with ISP bans, however, this has proven ineffectual. At present, unregulated sportsbooks are not stopped from offering their services in Portugal, while Portuguese punters are not punished for placing bets at them.
Something else that one has to consider is that there is no tax on winnings generated from sports betting. It is speculated that this is due to the inefficiency of the Portuguese government when it comes to unlicensed sportsbooks, which are hard to track.
Online Betting Regulatory Body in Portugal
The regulatory institution responsible for the oversight of online gambling in Portugal is the Gambling Regulation and Inspection Service, or Serviço de Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos of Turismo de Portugal in Portuguese. This government body has established itself as the authority on all forms of online gambling, including casino gaming, fixed-odds sports betting, poker, bingo and others.
It is the role of this institution to monitor the online gambling scene and to introduce new regulations whenever necessary. Since online betting became fully regulated in 2016, the SRIJ has come out with multiple revisions on existing laws regarding the various forms of gambling allowed in the country.
Portugal Online Betting Bonuses
Those who register at online bookmaker websites will often get the benefit of promotions and bonuses. Undoubtedly, these will add some form of value to your sports betting experience. Bonuses come in several different types and you will see many of them if you stick around for long enough.
The match bonuses are the most common variety and have the largest potential reward. Match bonuses are quite simple, you get a bonus based on your deposit up to a point. This type of promotion features a turnover requirement, which needs to be fulfilled before a withdrawal is permitted.
Another excellent bonus comes in the form of free bets. Not only will you stand to win money, but you will do it at no risk to your bankroll. A free bet is placed with bonus funds granted by the sportsbook at a set amount. If you get it wrong, your bankroll will remain intact. However, winning will entitle you to the profits, with the original bet value being removed.
You should also take into account the odds boost programs, offered by the betting sites. These are commonly applied to parlay wagers, where each additional leg will increase the overall winnings potential. Moreover, these can also be offered on specific events or matches, depending on the sportsbook’s preference.
Mobile Betting in Portugal
The betting scene evolves over time as all things do. First, it moved from dedicated bookmaker shops to our desktop computers. In recent years, the trend has moved from desktop to mobile devices. Smartphones and tablets are becoming much more functional and convenient, allowing punters to enjoy their favorite activity from just about anywhere.
Mobile sportsbooks have become quite advanced in recent years, giving us the opportunity to reap the rewards of the technological developments from the past 10 years. Nowadays, you simply load the website of any modern bookmaker website and start placing bets. Everything is polished from top to bottom, ensuring that one has an excellent experience with their respective platforms. You will quickly discover that you are not denied any aspect of the desktop sportsbook. Of course, this includes all available betting markets, the full selection of supported payment methods, promotions, customer support, and so on. Sportsbooks make sure that every customer is taken care of, regardless of their platform of choice. In practice, there is no difference between the mobile and desktop versions of most betting websites and you will be able to thoroughly use whichever serves you best.
Popular Betting Banking Methods in Portugal
Of course, engaging in online sports betting is not as straightforward as walking into a bookmaker shop cash in hand. You will need to set up a reliable and suitable online banking method, which will allow you to easily move funds between your personal bankroll and your sportsbook balance. As it happens, there are plenty of these services supported by the online betting scene and below, we will do a brief overview of the most popular used by Portuguese punters.
Credit cards are always in fashion and online betting sites agree to the use of this payment method. You will hardly find an online sportsbook that does not accept some form of credit card. Specifically, most platforms support Visa and MasterCard, the two most popular credit card brands out there. Either one will allow you to make instant deposits, whereas withdrawals are also quite quick.
If credit cards are not to your liking, you can always try out one of the various eWallets accepted by the online betting scene. These services give you the benefit of maintaining an independent balance from your bookmaker and bank accounts. Money transfers are quick, easy, and most importantly, cheap. Among the more worthwhile eWallets in the industry, we count Skrill, Neteller, ecoPayz, EntroPay, PayPal, and others.
Naturally, there are other banking options that you may try out. Prepaid cards are a good alternative to credit cards and eWallets, though some utility is lost. When in doubt, you can always rely on Neosurf and Paysafecard to see your deposit through.
Portugal Betting Sites FAQ
Why are there so many non-regulated bookmaker websites available to the Portuguese customer base?
The Portuguese government has not established conditions which sportsbook operators would consider welcoming or worthwhile. Specifically, the high taxation of betting enterprises was enough to drive out some of the larger operators. Many of these companies still offer their services to Portuguese punters, even if they are not regulated by a local institution. Blocking them is not feasible so the government cannot do anything about it. Placing bets at such platforms is not legal, per se, but no punishments are given either. This leaves Portuguese punters in a peculiar position, since they have access to both legitimate international platforms and illegitimate operations, with the difference between the two not always being clear.
Are bonuses profitable?
That would depend on the bonus and the terms it comes with. Certain promotions always work in your interest, namely risk-free bets and odds boosts. Regardless of what happens, you are always in the clear. Deposit bonuses, on the other hand, can be somewhat tricky since they feature a turnover requirement. Meeting the requirement often depends on your skill at predicting correct results. All in all, every promotion is only as good as you make it for yourself.
Do different sportsbooks offer different odds?
For the most part, yes. There will always be some discrepancy between the various betting platforms and this will likely never change. Odds are calculated proportionally to the money placed on the different outcomes. Since no two sportsbooks can always accept the same amount of money, there is bound to be a difference between the websites. Of course, this can play into your advantage, since you can benefit from the best odds at specific betting platforms.
Will online sportsbooks verify my identity?
Yes, at least, the legitimate ones will. Every licensed and regulated sportsbook will request proof of identity from you at some point or another, usually before a withdrawal is issued. This is done to ensure that you are legally fit to gamble and are who you say you are. Even if the sportsbook is not regulated under Portuguese terms, odds are that it still follows the rules of some gambling authority and will act accordingly.
Why do withdrawals take longer than deposits?
There are several reasons behind this aspect of the sports betting experience. For one, withdrawals have to be reviewed by the bookmaker staff and approved manually. Moreover, it can take some time for the transaction to be processed by your payment solution. This process is also applied to the sportsbook, but you do not see it, as your money is added automatically to your bankroll.